US & Canada

Tupac-loving US public servant fired as emails emerge

Tupac Shakur and Jerry Foxhoven Image copyright Getty Images/Office of the Lt Governor of Iowa
Image caption Jerry Foxhoven (right) was ousted soon after messaging 4,000 employees with a quote by deceased rapper Tupac Shakur

A senior US official who routinely sent Tupac quotes to thousands of his employees has been forced to resign.

Jerry Foxhoven was ousted as Iowa's Director of Human Services in June after at least one member of staff complained to lawmakers.

The Tupac super-fan also held "Tupac Fridays" in his office where he played the deceased rapper's music.

State officials have not confirmed if the dismissal was related to his workplace hip-hop references.

"I'm a 66-year-old white guy from the Midwest who likes rap music, who likes Tupac!" Mr Foxhoven told public broadcaster NPR.

In 350 emails seen by NPR and news agency AP, the civil servant shared quotes and marked milestones in the life of Tupac (also known as 2Pac).

"I might seem a little down because today is the 22nd anniversary of 2Pac's death," he wrote once to a staff member.

Mr Foxhoven also assigned Tupac Shakur as mandatory reading for his class at Drake University, where he taught law.

Speaking with NPR, he said he used his love of rap music to "reach out to our staff, tell them that I'm human, have a little levity".

In his final message, sent to 4,300 employees, he said he hoped everyone would enjoy the upcoming Father's Day, which was also Tupac's birthday and his two-year anniversary as director.

"Pay no mind to those who talk behind your back," he wrote, citing Tupac. "It simply means that you are 2 steps ahead."

He also praised staff, saying that is was "an absolute honor to lead such a dedicated and committed group of people".

More than a dozen people reportedly wrote back to praise him for the message, but he was asked to resign soon afterwards without any explanation from Iowa's governor's office.

Mr Foxhoven, however, told the New York Times that the decision was probably a "coincidence".

Iowa's Department of Human Services is currently at the centre of several controversies, including the mistreatment of boys at a juvenile home and a spike in deaths at a centre for disabled people.

A spokesperson for Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds told AP that "a lot of factors" contributed to Mr Foxhoven's resignation.

The governor's office has refused to go into detail, despite an Iowa law requiring state agencies to release "documented reasons and rationale" when employees resign instead of being fired.

Mr Foxhoven, who will soon be turning 67, told NPR that he had not yet decided what to do next.

Except for one thing: "I will be listening to some Tupac on my birthday. That's totally true."

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